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Personal Preparation Before Big Events

As I'm reading through the Bible in a year, I've come across several passages that indicate the need to personally prepare before large events. In thinking about my own life, when heading into a major week/event/project, I myself often have the sense that I need take extra measures to cleanse my heart/mind/life of all that would perhaps diminish the presence and power of the Lord in my life.

This principle really galvanized for me during my two years working on Skid Row in Los Angeles. Each week was a whirlwind of spiritual battle, so palpable that it was almost physical. I often used to say that in terms of demons--if drugs brought the presence of the demonic realm, and with 50,000 people doing hard drugs all around, then it was likely that I was serving amidst the darkest cloud of the enemy in the world.That dark cloud was evident every week I was there.

There were countless times that I felt God's hand wrapping me in His protection. There was the time when the drug-crazed prostitute came charging down the street with a 14" butcher knife swinging it at every person she saw. I was talking with a guy about the Lord and held my position. I watched out of the corner of my eye as she charged right past me but without thrusting it at me.

Then there was the time two guys got into a fight during the final prayer of our church service. Knives were drawn and I had to essentially and literally come between them.

Those were formative moments in my walk and ministry because I had to either stand by the protection of Christ or cower in fear. There were countless other times where various situations would arise. I've saw real knife fights, much nudity, pimps dragging prostitutes, gangs, etc. There were days when I'd say the wrong thing to the wrong person and I'd have a very powerful sense that the person was going to try to take me out sometime soon (I think one time they might have even tried, but that's a different story). Indeed, when I took over the children's ministry there was a need because the women who was doing the children's ministry was murdered by knife right in front of the kids.

But having said this, most of the daily/weekly spiritual warfare was not for physical protection, but rather to deliver these poor souls from the clutches of Satan. Countless lives were transformed. Countless people surrendered their lives to Christ. Prostitutes (literally) were getting clean and becoming righteous women. Drunks were getting sober and returning to their responsibilities. The lazy were working. The embittered were finding peace. Lives were changing. It was a glorious (albeit extremely difficult) ministry.

So the presence of evil was real and the power of God shone with an almost literal brightness. And I found that if I sanctified the Lord in my life before going downtown, then great things would happen. I'd be protected from serious harm. Prostitutes would pray to receive Christ. Drunks would confess their pride and laziness. Yet, if I just went down to Skid Row without much personal preparation, it was a lame, frustrating afternoon. Doors would be closed. Minds would be darkened. Hearts would be hardened. Nothing would happen. Early on, it became crystal clear that if anything was going to happen, it had to be of God and God was only going to work if I sanctified Him as Lord in my heart through prayer and confession and surrender.

Returning back to the Bible, I see this same principle in scripture. Here are some examples:

In Exodus 4:24-27 there is a strange passage where God is angry with Moses. At first blush, it doesn't make sense. God has just met Moses in the burning bush and called him to deliver the Jews from Pharaoh. Moses, with some reluctance, agrees to God's purposes and designs, knowing that it will mean hardship for him and his people. So you'd think that God would be pleased with Moses and ready to empower him. But that's not the case. Instead, the text says in verse 24 "Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the Lord met him and sought to put him to death." Wow, that's a pretty significant turn of events. For years that passage puzzled me until I understood the next verse more fully.

The next verse says "Then Zipporah (Moses wife) took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and threw it at Moses' feet..." The heart of this text is basically: Moses was disobedient towards God in one of the simplest and most basic demonstrations of obedience: circumcision. If God was going to use Moses to deliver the Jews, then as the leader, Moses needed to be in full compliance with of all of His holy laws. Yet Moses was impure in this most essential area. Since Moses was also going to go into a massive spiritual battle with Pharaoh, then Moses needed all of God's presence and power. Yet God will not be with those who disobey Him. There needed to be personal sanctification in Moses life before the victory was the Lord's.

In a similar, but different passage, Joshua was about to cross over the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land. Moses was now dead and the Jews were looking to Joshua as God's newly appointed leader. Joshua sent word to the people gathered in the east wilderness of the Jordan River: "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." Indeed, that idea there was to purify and cleanse themselves of all that they knew would displease God. No doubt the people obeyed.

Then, a few pages later, the Jews crossed over the Jordan and were ready to attack the city of Jericho. This would prove to be one of the most amazing displays of God's power in all of scripture. The massive city walls--considered impermeable in the day--would fall flat at the command of God. Yet prior to marching around the city, God told Joshua in chapter 5:2-7 that he needed to once again circumcise the men. Apparently, they had been lax in this rite--again. So the people obeyed God, did as they were instructed, and a few days later Jericho was theirs.

So all of this is to say that I think the principle is clear from scripture: God calls us to be sanctified and cleansed as we embark upon work that only He can do. I believe that we are all called to step out in faith, rely upon God, and engage in work that is infused with His power and grace. If we do not, then our "works" will not endure into eternity. For only those things that we do for Christ and with Christ will last forever (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). Yet in order for us to have the presence of Christ in our lives, we need to be fully surrendered to Him. This is not to say that we make ourselves pure--for that can only come when we have been clothed in Christ's righteousness though faith when we trust in His payment on the cross for our sins (Philippians 3:9). But still, in daily living, we must be fully surrendered to His Lordship so that His Spirit might have full control of our heart, mind and soul. And then, when Christ is fully sanctified as Lord in our lives (1 Peter 3:15) then we will see Him do great things among us. When we embark upon God's work in our lives, we must be fully surrendered and sanctified to Him.
Last modified on Tuesday, 27 December 2011 21:12
Russ Brewer

Russ Brewer

Rescued from the domain of darkness, transferred to the kingdom of the Son. Undershepherd of Grace. Husband of Corinne. Father of three. Chew-toy to Zeke...